Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Art Gallery In Town

When I arrived: 50-60 people, crowded into one room. Good. That made it easier to take photographs.

In the past I’ve attended art events with only five people standing around (yours truly included). Taking shots of a few people wandering about in an empty room isn’t that visually interesting. No dynamics.

(Of course, I could always take the same five people and clone them in a photo-editing program to create a crowd, but then I would have to explain why so many quintuplets showed up wearing the same clothes.)

So what drew the crowd? The opening of the Helen Wilcox Gallery at the Plattsburgh Public Library on Saturday evening. A large room on the second floor of the PPL had been renovated. In the past it was used for events such as book sales, presentations, and music performances. The walls were adapted to display many works by local artists, a new function for the room. An adjacent room had also been renovated to display quilts.

Carol Hochreiter, President of the Friends of the Library, said that there would be four exhibitions per year on a three-month basis. The next one is scheduled in September featuring the works of Gharan Burton and Kim Leclair, followed by a exhibit by Bill Amandon in January, 2010.

More for information email

Jungle Devours Miller Street Sidewalk

Visual Pun: Blues CD

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Clinton Street Rehab

In the past I’ve documented at this blog the rot that was eating away at Clinton Street in downtown Plattsburgh. The area seemed to be sliding into a slum area. Broken wooden steps with rusty nails sticking out. Cracked or busted windows.

But the rot is being ripped out, replaced with new materials. In the photo below note the new steps on the left and compare them to the ones on the right. Also, decayed doors are being replaced with new ones.

So progress is being made with the buildings. But the attitude of litterbugs and vandals still needs attention.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back To The Archives:

Besides this blog I have another one,, where I republish articles from my old Website of the same name. I kept building on to that site until it became a-mazing, a rambling mess. The new site, thanks to the blogging format, will be more organized.

The problem is that I haven’t republished anything since November 2008. I’ve been distracted with producing new material on this blog. Also, I have to decide what to republish and how to re-present it, a somewhat involved process.

This time it was easy to pick what old stuff to use. As I recently documented here at this blog, I had another encounter with the Plattsburgh Police Department involving my photographic interest. So over at I pulled from the archives the article about one such encounter under the new title of Photography And The Black & White Factor (dated June 19, 2009). Here’s the direct link.

At that time it was incident #4. Lately I’ve lost track; I can’t remember how many times since then. Another reason to dig into the archives.

I’ll add notices here when I’ve added more “classic” material at the other blog.

Cross Roads


Joshua Cross puts pen to paper and away he goes, free form. Lines intersecting, the image grows, arising spontaneously. Art happens.

His works are now on display at Restless Roots Artistry, 36 Miller Street, north of the Plattsburgh post office. A scan reveals that his art isn’t locked in to a particular style. Roads never traveled, off in all points on the compass. Subconscious set loose.

Joshua likes to explore, try something new. Forget repetition.

As he explained in a recent email interview: “I hate having to draw the same thing in different ways a thousand times over. Eleven to twelve is my limit.”

At this point the Beekmantown High School senior isn’t interested in production art, i.e., drawing the same characters and scenes ad nauseam for a comic strip or comic book series. He’s such a free artistic spirit that he’s not hung up on expressing a message or theme to others.

Joshua doodled this explanation: “Sometimes people say, ‘I don't get it’, to which I usually reply ‘there's nothing to get’. My art has no deeper meanings or social implications or anything of the sort. People shouldn't get the idea that I'm all art, at all. Recently, as in the past year, I only ever draw on the side of homework to pass time. To summarize, my art is just doodles that decided it would be a good idea to shoot opium directly into its brain, to increase its sense of self by 1,000. If that makes any sense. Which it might not.”

He also offered this self-sketch:

“I was born in the North Country. I have lived here all my life, only ever traveling (rarely) to Canada and Vermont. Who in Plattsburgh doesn't? Um. I love food. Most people like eating, eating is their strong suit, but I love food. All sorts of food. I cringe whenever I see half eaten food in the garbage or on the ground. I suppose people don't know what it's like to really be hungry. Anyway, my favorite color is purple. Uh. I have big hands. My friends call me Bendy, but I'm not all that flexible, I just move funny sometimes.”

Joshua credits one of his former teachers at BHS, Ed Hoffman, for developing his talent. Two art classes in his junior year with Hoffman helped him become a better artist.

During my photo session with Joshua he mentioned that he’s getting tired with drawing human (or humanoid) heads. He’s considering a new subject: fish.

And what are his plans after he graduates from high school?

“Probably, I'll find some sort of job. To make money with. I'll save up a bunch and start moving... uh... West. Not much East to go before I hit a figurative wall/literal ocean. I dunno. It all depends I guess. A lot can happen in a month or two.”

More doodling. To see what happens.

For more info: Restless Roots, (518) 578-0888. Hours: 3 – 6 PM, Tues. – Fri., 10 AM – 6 PM Sat. 36 Miller St, Plattsburgh, NY.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Notice: 65 Miller Street - Updated

There – that’s better.

Apparently a city crew showed up today and cut down the jungle and hauled away the trash.

After all, why should neighbors who maintain their properties have to put up with Dogpatch on the same street?

Kudos to the City of Plattsburgh.

A Tux Of Class

Three seniors from Chazy High School added some needed class to downtown Plattsburgh Monday evening.

What was the occasion? Class Day. A tradition dating back to the time of William H. Miner, the benefactor who built the original Chazy Central Rural School in 1916. Students dress up and participate in special events. The rented tuxes go for $80 a day, according to the trim trio.

On Notice: 65 Miller Street


Two days ago I noticed an official notification had been taped on the front door of the house at 65 Miller Street, the subject of a previous post entitled “House Beautiful.” The notice is from the City of Plattsburgh Building & Zoning Department.

According to the notice the property is in violation of the Property Maintenance Code of New York State, Chapter 3, Section 302, Subsection 302.4 Weeds. According to 302.4: All premises and immediate exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds and plant growth in excess of ten inches (254 mm) (excluding cultivated flowers and gardens, of course).

Let’s take another look at the weedy plant growth:

Yup, that’s more than ten inches. I thought the garbage bags and cardboard sheets would be considered fire hazards. I’m assuming they will be removed with the jungle growth.

The notice states that action must be taken immediately. If the owner or agent of the property doesn’t comply, the responsible parties will be billed for removal of the weeds. Also the owner or agent can face a fine not exceeding $1000. But it doesn’t stop there: every day of continued violation could be counted as additional offenses, to be determined by the court.

So let’s see if this notification produces the needed changes. Or at least generate some money for cash-strapped Plattsburgh.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thirsty? Don’t Ride The Bus!


The posters hanging in the CCPT buses state I can’t drink any water. In fact, I have to throw away any open liquid containers before boarding the bus.

CCPT stands for Clinton County PUBLIC Transportation. Public means human beings. And on a hot day – especially when the AC ain’t working – human beings dehydrate and need water. Ask your doctor.

Also, throwing away liquid containers is wasting good food. And since there are no recycling bins at any of the bus stops, this policy ain’t green.

The new policy wants riders to snitch on any bus driver seen breaking the no drinking rule. Just call the CCPT office. And while you’re at it, call Homeland Security to be really safe.

I contacted the Clinton County Planning Office, the bureaucratic entity responsible for dreaming up such pragmatic rules. I emailed, mentioning that I had a medical condition that required me to drink water (the condition is known as getting thirsty) and whether I should get a note from my doctor.

A Ms. Maggie Barie, CCPT Administrator, responded via email today:

“…we do not permit people to drink liquids of any kind while riding our busses. If indeed this is something that needs to be done for a medical reason, then you must fill out and be approved for paratransit services. Typically we have people fill these out in order to become qualified for the service due to a disability that prevents them from accessing the fixed route system. However, in this regard, we need to use the forms in order to verify your medical condition needs and how the bus system can be adapted to suite them. There are two forms, one that you fill out and the other that your doctor fills out. If you send me your mailing address, than I can send you the appropriate forms. You may also call me if you would like to discuss this further at 565-4713.”

Great. I’m just thirsty but I have to prove it’s a disability to ride a special bus.

So why is this Nazi anal-retentive policy in place? To quote the poster: “IT IS OUR GOAL TO KEEP OUR BUSES LOOKING CLEAN AND NEW.”

Guess what? Things get dirty after a while. They even get dented and dinged and then wear out. If you want to keep your buses in pristine shape, then park them in a museum.

House Beautiful: 65 Miller Street

No change. It’s been over a month. This one spot still looks like something out of Dogpatch.

OK, the house is condemned/abandoned but c’mon – someone has to be responsible for it. At least get the fire hazard garbage bags and cardboard outta there.

Take Pride, Plattsburgh – ya know? Even L’il Abner would be ashamed.

Plattsburgh’s Chickens Come Home To Roost

Spotted this ominous trio hanging around City Hall the other day. Please note that crows are scavengers; plenty of pickings around the Burgh.

Will Plattsburgh ever be the clean, efficient city it once was?

Quote the raven:


Saturday, June 13, 2009

But No Tar And Feathers Were Found

In a previous post, “WIRY Commentator Needs Rewiring,” I mentioned that radio “personality” Ducky Drake stated that the Plattsburgh Public Library should be closed down to save the city money. A controversial POV, indeed.

The image below is a portrait of Ducky from Please note the shirt he is wearing.

This second image shows the remains of a shirt I found lying around near downtown Plattsburgh.

This evidence suggests that poor Ducky ran into a pro-library crowd and didn’t get away in time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

WIRY Commentator Needs Rewiring

Two groups of people you never eff with: librarians and library patrons.

Recently Ducky Drake, in-house bloviator at WIRY radio, said in a commentary that the Plattsburgh Public Library should be closed down.

Of course, WIRY radio is a for-profit entity, supported by advertiser dollars based upon its audience ratings. The library is non-profit, supported by taxpayer dollars.

And so there’s the problem: Why should taxpayers support the city library?

Ducky claims that other libraries in the city – such as the Plattsburgh State and Clinton-Essex-Franklin libraries – can take over after PPL closes it doors. He implies that the Plattsburgh Public Library is simply a duplication of the efforts by other libraries.

Wrong-O, Ducky-O.

Case in point: PPL’s public access computers. Those computers see a lot of use, especially for those stuck on the wrong side of the digital tracks. I don’t see Plattsburgh State being able to handle the demands of both students and non-students. And CEF doesn’t offer free public access computers.

But Ducky contends that all services now provided by PPL can be had at other libraries. Just throw some money at the other libraries and you can still save a lot.

Let’s face it: the other libraries would have to expand and re-modify their spaces to accommodate more patrons. More people would have to be hired. Any savings would be eaten up by those changes and the additional bureaucratic red tape.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul. And Satan laughs his ass off.

Ducky admits that there has been an upswing in the patronage numbers at the Plattsburgh Public Library. Or to put it in his terms: PPL ratings are going through the roof.

Apparently he heard about that Press-Republican newspaper article that stated the economic downturn has meant more people are trying to save money by borrowing books, tapes, and DVDs free of charge. It probably came to his attention when a fellow employee was skimming the paper to harvest copy for WIRY’s next “news” broadcast.

Anyway, logic would dictate that increased usage should mean more money, not none at all.

The Plattsburgh Public Library has always been a low-priority for the city. For years I documented on my blog how the front entrance to the PPL was falling apart, the steps crumbling away. Orange tape and spray paint marked the danger spots. It looked like something out of war torn Baghdad.

The penny-wise but pound-foolish city would patch up the steps, filling in the cavities, and they just kept disintegrating. It took a major effort to fix them.

That’s the main problem with the city: it wastes money on nonsense while ignoring its infrastructure. It either does cheap temporary fixes, paying more in the long run, or blows its wad on impractical projects like that white elephant called the Crete Center.

The Public Library is a practical operation. It works.

How many free services does WIRY provide to the public? Then again, it’s supported by advertiser dollars, and all it cares about is the bottom line.

Maybe Ducky is joshing a bit, hoping to goose WIRY’s ratings to rake in more ad bucks. I called the station and I gathered there was been a bit of response to his anti-public-library commentary. Like I said, two groups of people you never eff with. I’m in the second group.

If Ducky is serious, then I have this advice for him:

Cover your head with an aluminum foil hat. Prolonged exposure to WIRY’s transmitter has damaged the wiring in your brain.

What Kinda Bug?

I found this critter crawling around the shrubbery at Hawkins Hall on the Plattsburgh State campus. Any entomologists or nature fans out there who can ID it for me?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Evening Skyscape: Shifting Colors And Shapes

These images were taken Friday evening, June 5th,, the sun just below the horizon. They’re in chronological order, showing the transition from twilight into night, the changing patterns and colors of the clouds.

(Click on each image for a larger view.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

From Cradle To Grave

Busting Boundaries: The Art Of Joshua Cross

I was a day late. Restless Roots Artistry had held the opening the previous evening.

I regretted my mistake. Seeing the art without the artist is an incomplete story.

The mini-exhibit of works by Joshua Cross, a senior at Beekmantown High School, is striking. Images and styles all over the map. His art teacher, June Levenson, told me that Joshua likes to let his imagination run wild.

For example, she might give her students a particular object to draw. Joshua would only use that as a springboard to go off on a creative tangent. The original subject would be in the work but not necessarily its focus.

Anyone can go crazy. But going crazy artistically – that’s rare.

His works show imaginative use of color. Even his black-and-white drawings are colorful in a twisted way. Dali collides with cartoons and comic books.

Borders can’t contain Joshua’s expressiveness. In one work the image is spilling out, the black borderlines warping and wiggling as the art busts free.

The Joshua Cross exhibit is on display at Restless Roots Artistry, 36 Miller St., Plattsburgh, just north of the post office. It is open Tuesday through Friday 3 - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 6pm. Call (518) 578-0888 for more information or email